Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons

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Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons
Active 1794-1956
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Yeomanry
Size One Regiment
Engagements South Africa 1900-02
The Great War
Cambrai 1917
Kortrijk (Courtrai)
France and Flanders 1915-18
World War II
Syria 1941
El Alamein
Tebaga Gap
El Hamma
El Kourzia
Tunis
North Africa 1942–43
Anzio
Rome
Coriano
Rimini Line
Ceriano Ridge
Italy 1944

The Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons was a unit of the British Army from 1794 to 1956.

The regiment was formed as volunteer cavalry in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was converted to an armoured role during World War II. In 1956 it merged with two other Yorkshire yeomanry regiments to form the Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry. Its lineage is continued today by the Queen's Own Yeomanry.

World War I[edit]

Yorkshire Mounted Brigade
Organisation on 4 August 1914

In accordance with the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act 1907 (7 Edw.7, c.9) which brought the Territorial Force into being, the TF was intended to be a home defence force for service during wartime and members could not be compelled to serve outside the country. However, on the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, many members volunteered for Imperial Service. Therefore, TF units were split in August and September 1914 into 1st Line (liable for overseas service) and 2nd Line (home service for those unable or unwilling to serve overseas) units. Later, a 3rd Line was formed to act as a reserve, providing trained replacements for the 1st and 2nd Line regiments.[1]

1/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

The 1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons deployed to France in July 1915, as Divisional Cavalry

A Squadron to 17th (Northern) Division
B and HQ Squadrons to 37th Division
C Squadron to 19th (Western) Division

In May 1916 the Regiment reassembled and became Corps Cavalry to II Corps with whom they remained until November 1917, when they were transferred to the Cavalry Corps. Up to this time their only chance of mounted action had been during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line in April 1917. They were present at the battles of the Somme (1916), the Ancre, the Somme (1917) and Ypres (1917). Although in these battles there was no mounted fighting,they were often called upon to support infantry attacks with their Hotchkiss machine guns.

In December 1917, the Yorkshire Dragoons were posted to the 8th (Lucknow) Cavalry Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division, where they relieved the King's Dragoon Guards and took part in the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.[2] As such they were one of only six Yeomanry Regiments posted to a Regular Cavalry Division.[a]

The Yorkshire Dragoons were dismounted in February 1918, and returned to II Corps as Corps Cyclists.[2] From September to November 1918, the Regiment fought with the 9th Division in the offensive east of Ypres. In action on 15 and 20 October they captured over 100 prisoners with 7 field guns, 5 heavy guns, many machine guns and much transport.

Hostilities came to an end on 11 November 1918 and they were selected for the army of occupation and acted as advance guard to the 9th and 29th Divisions during the advance into Germany. The Regiment was stationed in the Cologne area until demobilization in July 1919, when Lord Scarborough received a letter of appreciation from the Corps Commander. "They have earned the gratitude of their country and county, in the way they have worked and fought all through the war, and have made a name for themselves which will never be forgotten".[6]

2/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

The 2nd Line regiment was formed in 1914.[7] In 1915 it was under the command of the 2/1st Yorkshire Mounted Brigade in Yorkshire (along with the 2/1st Yorkshire Hussars[8] and the 2/1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry[9]) and by March 1916 was in the Beverley area.[10] On 31 March 1916, the remaining Mounted Brigades were numbered in a single sequence and the brigade became 18th Mounted Brigade, still in Yorkshire under Northern Command.[11]

In July 1916 there was a major reorganization of 2nd Line yeomanry units in the UK. All but 12 regiments were converted to cyclists[11] and as a consequence the regiment was dismounted and the brigade converted to 11th Cyclist Brigade. Further reorganization in October and November 1916 saw the brigade redesignated as 7th Cyclist Brigade in November, now in the Bridlington area.[10] In March 1917, the regiment moved to Barmston and in July to Burton Agnes. It returned to Bridlington in January 1918.[7]

About May 1918 the Brigade moved to Ireland[10] and the regiment was stationed at Fermoy, County Cork. There were no further changes before the end of the war.[7]

When the officers and men learnt that the 2nd Regiment would not be going abroad they applied for transfers to other regiments, and were gradually replaced by others who were recovering from wounds and disabilities.[citation needed]

3/1st Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons[edit]

A 3rd Line regiment of Yorkshire Dragoons was raised early in 1915 to supply drafts for the other two regiments and was quartered first at York and later Tidworth.

Between the Wars[edit]

On reforming the TA, the 14 senior Yeomanry Regiments remained horsed cavalry regiments (6 forming the 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades). The Yorkshire Hussars and The Queen’s Own Yorkshire Dragoons being respectively 3rd and 9th in seniority formed together with The Sherwood Rangers 5th Cavalry Brigade (with its headquarters in York). Others converted to artillery and other arms.

World War II[edit]

During World War II, the Regiment was attached to the 5th Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, when it became necessary to occupy Syria and the Lebanon to prevent their use by the Axis Powers, the Dragoons were stationed on the Syrian frontier. They crossed the frontier in late June 1941, and occupied Kuneitra. In July the Regiment moved to Ezraa in order to contain the French Druse Garrison of Jebel Druse. On 10 July, C Squadron Headquarters and two troops fought a patrol skirmish with French Druse Cavalry, which was probably the last action of British horsed cavalry. The Vichy French, asked for an armistice on 12 July. From July until December the Regiment garrisoned the Jebel Druse, prior to moving to Azib to train for mountain warfare. On 13 February, came the news that they were to be reroled and on 1 March they said goodbye to their horses, by a matter of a day the Q.O.Y.D gained the distinction of being the last active cavalry regiment in the British Army.

Intensive conversion training to becoming an Armoured Regiment was carried out, whilst in May part of the Regiment went up to the desert, taking part in the Battle of Gazala by holding the defensive box called “Knightsbridge”. They then subsequently withdrew to El Alamein where they carried out the camouflage and deception plans particularly the representation of dummy tanks. In July the Regiment was hurriedly reunited and incorporated into "Delta Force" which was formed as the last line of defence in the event of the Alamein Line breaking.

Owing to heavy losses in armour in the recent battles it was impossible to fulfil the Commander-in-Chief's promise that the Yorkshire Dragoons should become an Armoured Regiment, instead they were equipped with Bren Carriers, 3 inch mortars and 6 pounder anti-tank guns and placed under command 2nd Armoured Brigade, 1st Armoured Division together with The Bays, 9th Lancers and 10th Hussars. Each motor squadron was under command of an armoured regiment, whilst the anti-tank guns were under command of Brigade.

El Alamein started on 23 October, by daylight on 24th the attack was partially successful but the final minefield was unbreached. The Regiment suffered considerable casualties in the congested minefield areas prior to the breaking of the line on 2 November, when 1st Armoured Division started the pursuit it led as far as Timimi.

At the end of January the Regiment went straight into the line at Medenine for the frontal attack on the Mareth Line that failed, after which 1st Armoured Division was moved round to the south to advance to El Hamma. In March the attack on the Akarit Line was successful and the Division once again took up the pursuit. By early April the First and Eighth Armies had joined forces and 1st Armoured Division came under command of the First Army for the final phases of the battle for Tunis.

The regiment remained in North Africa for a further eight months, during which time they converted to lorried infantry as part of 18th Lorried Infantry Brigade. In February 1944, they landed at Anzio under command of the 1st Infantry Division. An attack on 13 March cost the Regiment 170 casualties in killed, wounded, and, missing. These were not replaced until early May prior to the breakout at the end of the month. On 3 June they led the attack on the Ardan Line opening the road to Rome.

After a period of training the Regiment moved up to Florence reverting to 1st Armoured Division for the attack on the Gothic Line. The original Yorkshire Dragoons who had served four and a half years abroad (less six officers) were sent home at the end of August, prior to the attack. The first attack on Coriano Ridge secured a precarious foothold but failed to achieve its objective. The Regiment, which was in reserve, stabilised the position and three days later carried out an attack that took San Savino, where 600 prisoners were taken, and two days later they carried a further ridge. However, such was the shortage of reinforcements that 18th Infantry Brigade was broken up and the personnel were used to reinforce other units. The Regiment was put in ‘suspended animation’ and the majority of the officers and men were posted to 2/4 King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

“You may well be proud of the part your Regiment has played in our great victories out here,” wrote Field Marshal Alexander, “and I shall always feel very proud to have had the Yorkshire Dragoons under my command.”

Post war[edit]

After the Second World War the yeomanry regiments in Yorkshire were amalgamated into The Queen's Own Yorkshire Yeomanry, which was formed on 1 April 1967 as a TAVR III unit with the RHQ and 'A' Squadron at York, 'B' Squadron at Doncaster and 'C Squadron at Hull, then on 1 April 1969, they were reduced to cadre and finally reformed on 1 April 1971, as 'A' Squadron The Queen's Own Yeomanry.[12]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rinaldi 2008, p. 35
  2. ^ a b Baker, Chris. "The Yorkshire Dragoons". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Becke 1935, p. 4
  4. ^ Becke 1935, p. 12
  5. ^ a b c Becke 1935, p. 20
  6. ^ Barlow & Smith 1984, unknown
  7. ^ a b c James 1978, p. 31
  8. ^ Baker, Chris. "The Yorkshire Hussars". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Baker, Chris. "The East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry". The Long, Long Trail. Retrieved 14 February 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c James 1978, pp. 31,32
  11. ^ a b James 1978, p. 36
  12. ^ "Yeomanry". Retrieved 13 October 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Barlow, Leslie; Smith, Robert Jeffrey (1984). The Yorkshire Dragoons (The Uniforms of the British yeomanry force 1794-1914). Robert Ogilby Trust. p. 32. ISBN 0-946771-82-0. 
  • Becke, Major A.F. (1935). Order of Battle of Divisions Part 1. The Regular British Divisions. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. ISBN 1-871167-09-4. 
  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 
  • Rinaldi, Richard A (2008). Order of Battle of the British Army 1914. Ravi Rikhye. ISBN 978-0-97760728-0.